Frequently Asked Questions About Acne

Dr. Wu

13 Apr Frequently Asked Questions About Acne

Hi everyone 😊,

Over the last year and a half at Ulmer and Wu Dermatology I’ve gotten to know a great deal of patients. I’m been lucky enough to see patients from the nearby Long Beach community and as far away as San Diego. I’ve answered a range of questions relating to individual skin conditions and have noticed that I get the same questions over and over again. I’m starting this blog to answer some of the most common questions I’ve received. I’ll try my best to make the topics and the questions pertinent and helpful. If you have additional questions, don’t be afraid to email our office here. I would love to know what you are interested in. I hope this is helpful to you!

Why am I breaking out in acne?

Acne is caused by follicular occlusion (clogged pores). While it may seem like your skin is just a broad sheet that covers your entire body, it is actually covered in little openings (follicles) where little hairs grow out from. Within the follicles, there are oil glands which produce and secrete oil, a natural moisturizer for your skin. Normally the oil empties into the hair follicle and then out of the hair follicle onto your skin. But sometimes, your follicular openings (pores) can get clogged, causing oil, keratin and other contents to build up in the follicle. When this happens, the environment is ripe for bacteria to grow causing inflammation and resulting in acne.

Do I have to treat my acne?

Don’t underestimate the impact of acne. Just because acne is common does not mean that it is normal and does not need to be treated. Acne has been shown to affect psychosocial wellbeing and is also associated with depression. In addition, acne is among the few dermatologic conditions that leads to permanent scarring of the face and body. While scar revision is possible, it is far more effective to prevent the scarring than it is treat it. We have very effective treatments for acne, talk to us to discuss your options!

How do I treat my acne?

There are three main ways in which we treat acne. We try to keep the pores open using exfoliating agents such as salicylic acid or glycolic acid, and retinoids which help to normalize skin keratinization. We target the bacteria within the pimples using topical or oral antibiotics to try to reduce the inflammation. And we use agents that reduce or alter oil production such as spironolactone or isotretinoin. Acne can broadly be categorized into predominantly comedonal (clogged pores), inflammatory papules (pimples and pustules), and nodules and cysts (larger deeper lesions). We tailor your therapy to your type and severity of acne.

Is my diet causing my acne?

The short answer here is no one really knows. The link between diet and acne is quite controversial. Some studies have shown an association between certain foods and worsening of acne, and others do not. It’s very confusing! There is probably some relationship between diet and acne, but it is difficult to characterize this relationship. Keeping a journal might be useful if you feel like your acne flares with certain foods. You do not need to change your diet drastically or avoid an entire food group. Remember that we have effective treatments that can control your acne independent of your diet! You don’t need to give up milk and chocolate. Especially not chocolate! Just kidding, especially not milk! Don’t you want strong bones?

Can I wear makeup if I have acne?

Yes, it’s okay to wear makeup if you have acne – if it isn’t contributing to clogging your pores. Remember the root of all acne is having clogged pores. Check your make up to make sure it is oil-free or non-comedogenic (meaning it doesn’t clog pores). Some of the worst acne I’ve seen came from patients who switched their makeup and it resulted in a severe break out. It’s ok to wear makeup even if you have acne but be wary of whether it seems to be worsening your acne. Also, make sure to wash the makeup off before you go to sleep.

Do blemishes from acne go away?

Acne can leave many different shapes and sizes of scars including ice-pick, rolling, box-car, and atrophic scars. These scars that come from severe acne will not go away with time. We do however have procedures that can help reduce the scarring so that it is less noticeable. These procedures can vary from surgical incision of the scar tissue (subcision), use of powerful fractional lasers (CO2 laser), or use of chemical solutions (TCA cross). The technique we ultimately decide to use depends on the type of scarring you have and the severity.

The colored spots where pimples have gone away (typically red or brown in color) are not scars and will fade with time. Sometimes it may seem like the spots never go away, but that is because in uncontrolled acne, new spots come in to replace the ones that have faded away. Sunscreen can help prevent brown spots from getting darker – sunscreen can also prevent wrinkles and photoaging, and it can prevent skin cancer… There sure are a lot of benefits to sunscree

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